You may have noticed a new addition to the Limpsfield Village Conservation Area opposite St Peter’s Church. This small but not insignificant replica milestone – Croydon 10 – marks a key part in Limpsfield’s unique history and a significant time in its development during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
In the recent Conservation Area Appraisal & Management Plan carried out by Limpsfield Parish Council, Surrey’s Historic Buildings Officer, Christopher Reynolds, who managed the appraisal noted that there used to be a milestone on the bank opposite St Peter’s Church steps saying ‘Croydon 10 Miles’.
This was based on the 1869 map of Limpsfield that showed the Limpsfield Turnpike, an important local trade route at the time.
Milestones were a legal requirement and as the Limpsfield Turnpike was not very profitable they would have tried to save on money and only made small ones for our route!
There would originally have been a milestone every mile, and the one in Warlingham (just opposite Sainsbury’s) is one of the few that have survived.
The Historic Buildings Officer recommended that, as part of our Limpsfield Village Conservation Area enhancements, the Parish Council installed a replica milestone, made from cast iron like the original, to represent the village’s unique heritage and history.
The significance of Limpsfield’s Turnpike Road
Turnpike Roads, or in modern day parlance, Toll Roads, were an important part of trade development in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and one of these went directly through Limpsfield (now the B269). These roads were maintained by individual bodies established by acts of Parliament which had powers to exact tolls to pay for the upkeep of the roads.
The turnpike greatly added to the ongoing development of Limpsfield in this time. During the late 17th and 18th centuries, Limpsfield Village experienced a period of moderate prosperity. Medieval hall houses, such as Detillens and The Bower, were modernised with brick fronts while new larger dwellings were constructed. The Manor House, The Old Rectory, Church Cottage and Rose Cottage to the north of the village all date from this period.
Inns and public houses were also constructed in Limpsfield Village during this period including The Bull Inn, Plumbers Arms and Coach and Horses (later Lord Rodney, now Rodney House). These indicate that development in the 17th and 18th centuries was not only linked to agricultural prosperity but also to an increase in road traffic.
The importance of Limpsfield Village for travel can be seen on the 1729 Senex map which indicates the High Street formed historic routes toward Oxted and Croydon.
However, the road from Limpsfield to Croydon was a tricky one due to the steep climb to the top of Botley Hill (via the track that is now the bridleway from Pitchfont farm to the top of Titsey), and was diverted as part of the 1770 Limpsfield Turnpike Act to form the modern Titsey Road, first shown on the Lindley and Crosley map in 1793.
This diversion closed Water Lane for traffic and allowed for a more gradual ascent via Titsey. Despite its aspirations, the turnpike was never successful and following a further alteration in 1866 it was abandoned on the 30th June 1870, but its part in Limpsfield’s history is an important one, now marked by the replica milestone.
Do go and have a look when you’re passing.